Porn Still A Big Problem for Wikipedia

Bob Johnson

NEW YORK — Porn is Wikipedia’s most popular search — and it’s causing a problem for the Internet encyclopedia.

In a FOX News report, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger blasted the reference giant for not taking measures to filter porn images and videos that are prevalent and easily accessible to children.

Sanger warned that despite an outcry to filter the website after the problem was brought to the public’s attention more than two years ago, nothing much has been done.

“I think it’s a serious problem and so few people realize it’s there,” Sanger said. “I find it disturbing. I wouldn’t be speaking out if I had nothing to do with Wikipedia.”

Sanger said nearly all of the most frequently visited media files on Wikipedia servers are for sexually explicit files, and finding them is as easy as typing an unrelated search term.

Although the Wikipedia Foundation board of directors voted on, and passed a resolution to install content filtering a year ago, along with a way to block questionable photos, there’s no real resolution in site.

Sanger blames the foot dragging on a company attitude that abhors censorship of any kind.

“I think it’s clear why there’s a hold up,” Sanger said. “There's a culture on Wikipedia that people are unaware of. It’s dominated by young men in Western cultures and there’s a certain political outlook that goes with it ... Libertarian and even anarchist views where they feel nothing should be censored.”

“I believe in their heart of hearts [Wikipedia] wants to make good on their resolution, but the rank and file shout down upon those they disagree with.”

Addressing the issue, Wikipedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh said in a statement, “the features have not yet been developed and implemented. Conversations and collaborations with the Wikimedia community on the topic of controversial content continue.”

“Wikipedia is a very big project space, and it contains the information and media belonging to multitudes — people of every nationality, every political persuasion, every field of interest. We aspire to make decisions by consensus. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this is a tough issue for us to resolve."

"We want to get it right, and getting it right takes time,” Walsh said.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales also responded to Sanger and tweeted that the Wikipedia board is still working on putting a filter in place. “@lsanger Yes, I continue to strongly support the development of a thoughtful feature both publicly and privately,” Wales wrote on June 2.

Sanger is also an advocate for parental control and said Wikipedia should give parents the tools.

“It’s generally a socially conscious thing to do. Google, YouTube, Flickr. They all have some sort of monitoring or filtering in place. Why can’t Wikipedia?,” he asked.

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